10 THINGS TO DO in PORTO PORTUGAL22 October, 2019by Chelsea Baker & Mac Candee
Porto (also known as Oporto), Portugal – Known for its port wine (of course, hence the name), river views, 6 bridges – 6 bridges?! Yes, 6 MASSIVE bridges reaching upwards of 300 feet in the air, and more. Unfortunately, we only had 3 days to explore this beautiful city meaning we saw as much as we could but we definitely didn’t see it all! You could easily spend a week exploring all that Porto has to offer. Out of what we saw though, we feel confident in recommending to you both things to do in Porto, Portugal and things to see in Porto, Portugal – all coming together to encompass our list of 10 Things to Do & See in Porto, Portugal!
Not a fan of reading, but want to know more about Porto?
We’ve also put together a YouTube video that covers all of our below recommendations in an easy-to-view visual format: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs2UNIrBGkM
Now, before we jump in, it’s important to note that this list is in no particular order of best to worst or vice versa! Each recommendation has its own qualities that make it worth visiting – and, hopefully, there’s something in here for everyone! Drop your bags in a Porto luggage storage facility and keep reading to find out when the best time to visit Porto is, as well as our recommended things to see and do in the city.
First off, when is the best time to visit Porto, Portugal? The best time to visit Porto, Portugal is from May to September. This is when the weather is at its sunniest and warmest but Porto typically has temporal weather year-round so you can’t really go wrong.
Now, on to our recommended 10 Things to Do & See in Porto, Portugal!
#1 Igreja do Carmo (The Church of our Lady of Carmo)
Our first of things to see in Porto, Portugal is the Igreja do Carmo. Built in the 1700’s, this church is famous for the giant tile façade that covers an entire exterior side of it. The blue and white tiles will catch your eyes from afar and lure you in to walk up close and see for yourself their detail and beauty. But the beauty doesn’t stop there. When the church is open for visitors (be sure to check the visiting hours before you go as it is still an active church!), then definitely go inside to again be blown away by the intricate detail present in every aspect of this church.
#2 Igreja dos Clerigos and the Torre de los Clerigos (Clerigos Church and the Clerigos Tower)
Built for the Brotherhood of the Clergy, this church is most well-known for its tower. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the inside of the church itself up close (but also fortunately because the reason we weren’t able to see it was because there was a wedding taking place)! However, we did still get to see it from afar because to get to the tower, you have to follow a pathway on the 2nd floor of the church that opens up to the church below which also gave us a beautiful view of the wedding taking place below. Once we got to the tower, we began the 240-step trek to the top up an extremely narrow stairway (take off your backpack/bag and hold it to your chest because it won’t fit when you’re going back-to-back with other people climbing down)! Once you reach the top though, every step up the narrow stairway is absolutely worth it. You get incredible 360-degree views of the entire city gleaming over the river. It costs 5 Euro (approximately 5.50 USD) to get in, and is worth every penny.
#3 Duoro River “6 Bridges” Cruise
Our first of things to do in Porto, Portugal is a Duoro River cruise. While Porto is very walkable, if you’ve followed along on our travels so far, you’ll know that no trip of ours is really complete without doing a boat cruise (geography and weather permitting, of course). And with Porto being spread out along the banks of the Duoro River, a boat cruise is an incredible way to see the city. There are multiple boat cruises to choose from, and our AirBnB host actually recommended the one that we took. 15 Euro for 50 minutes takes you up and down the river cruising under all of the famous 6 bridges all the while taking in the unique views of the city towering above you from the water. Now it’s important to mention that the cruise we took is one of the cheaper cruise options which means it will inevitably attract a larger amount of people based on its affordability. For us, we were lucky to get a comfortable seat along the railing but it’s definitely best (and worth it!) to get there far enough in advance (approximately 20 minutes) of your scheduled cruise to make sure you get a good seat (or a seat at all – some people did have to stand). There are also more expensive cruises that you can take which can provide you a longer cruise, a more personalized experience, and less people to share the views with.
#4 Jardins do Palacio de Cristal (Gardens of the Crystal Palace)
So this place was full of surprises. Don’t be deceived by the main entrance! When we first walked up, we were thrown off by just a dome building surrounded by some greenery. Turns out, the palace was destroyed in the 1950’s and a dome to house sporting events was built in its place but the gardens still exist beyond it! So just keep walking and you’ll find not only beautiful gardens but also incredible viewpoints over the city and river – and a market! We were pleasantly surprised to also stumble upon a huge market full of stalls selling books, doing readings, serving food and drinks, and more! You may also stumble upon a peacock (or chickens, ducks, seagulls, etc.) roaming around! This whole area is a must-see if you’re ever in Porto – We were there around sunset which just made the veiwpoints all the more spectacular.
#5 Viewpoint above Fountain of the Virtues
Another thing you’ll know about us if you’ve followed along on our travels so far is that we LOVE a good sunset. So wherever we go we always try to find a sunset spot to recommend to you guys. Well we found a pretty incredible one in Porto. Looking over the city and river, you can’t go wrong watching the sunset as it turns them into gold, can you? Can you tell we’re suckers for sunsets or no? Just don’t forget to bring a bottle of wine or whichever beverage you prefer to enjoy as you watch the sun go down. If you do forget though, don’t worry! – There are a few bars and restaurants right behind the viewpoint that can take care of you with a variety of to-go drinks.
#6 Cais da Ribeira (River Street)
This is definitely the most crowded area of Porto – but for a reason. River Street has quaint and cute restaurants and shops lining one side and the Duoro River lining the other (meaning those restaurants have some pretty surreal views). While that definitely makes it more touristy and hence more pricey, it’s still a beautiful area to walk around to take in the views. You can also forego the restaurants and just grab a drink and sit along the river with your legs dangling above the water if that’s more your style.
#7 Don Louis 1 Bridge
Out of all 6 of the bridges, the Don Louis 1 bridge is definitely a sight to see more up close. This double-decker bridge towers at its highest approximately 300 feet in the air. You can walk across both the lower and upper levels, but for those views we keep talking about, you have to brave the upper level – and it will be worth it. After a bit of a hike (approximately 220 steps to the top if you’re coming from the Cais da Ribeira area), you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city and once you get to the other side, even more (see #8)!
#8 Viewpoint Miradouro da Serra do Pilar
Once you cross the upper level of the Don Louis 1 bridge, you can see Porto like you hadn’t yet seen it before. Imagine being able to see the entire city and the land beyond in one glance, spreading out as far as you can see. And imagine it at sunset as well. That’s what you can see at this viewpoint.
#9 Teleferico de Gaia Cable Car
Our last of things to do in Porto, Portugal is the Teleferico de Gaia Cable Car. After that hefty walk up to the top of the Don Louis 1 bridge, you can either walk back down…or take a cable car. We recommend the cable car! Not only because it gives your feet a rest, but it’s also another cool way to see the city AND it comes with a ‘free’ glass of port wine (what Porto is famous for)! It costs 6 Euro or approximately 6.60 USD but we think well worth it. It also drops you in the Port Wine District of Porto which brings us to our 10th and final thing we recommend for you to see & do in Porto, Portugal!
#10 Port Wine District
Our last of things to see in Porto, Portugal is the Port Wine District. On the other side of the river across from the main area of Porto is its Port Wine District. Here you can find multiple establishments where you can taste some of Porto’s famous port wine (and the free glass you got as part of the cable card ride)! It’s also full of again quaint and cute restaurants opposite the riverbanks. Just walk back across the Don Louis 1 bridge (maybe the lower level this time) and you’re back in Porto hopefully feeling satisfied with all the things you’ve seen and done while you’ve been there.
Thanks for reading!
We hope you enjoyed and learned and better yet, saved this blog post to reference on your trip to Porto! There are, again, of course so many more things to see and do in Porto, Portugal, than what is in this blog post but with the three days we had, we left Porto feeling like we’d really taken full advantage of our time there, thanks to doing these 10 things. We hope you do too!
About the authors:
Mac Candee is a full-time traveler and travel content creator with a focus on blog posts, YouTube videos, & scenic Instagram photos.
Mac is currently traveling across the world for an undetermined amount of time focusing on finding the best things to do and travel tips to help inspire you for your future travels.
Follow along @worldnomac on Instagram for more content!